Barriers to and benefits of clustering in drive tourism markets: The case of the Rainforest Way
Themed touring routes have emerged as one way to attract the drive tourism market in rural and regional destinations. It appears obvious that business cooperation around themed touring routes will enhance their potential to benefit the entire destination. However, it is not always the case that businesses can be encouraged to engage in cooperative activities, and the nature and intent of cooperative activities are not always clear. This chapter uses the Rainforest Way touring route in rural Eastern Australia to highlight some of the barriers to business cooperation, and some of the benefits. The commentary is based on a survey of more than fifty tourism businesses associated with the Rainforest Way conducted in 2004, and reported in detail elsewhere (Smith 2005). Results are used to illustrate key conceptual issues rather than being presented as a standard research report. The chapter links touring route development to concepts of tourism systems, special interest tourism and economic clusters. The cluster approach seems particularly useful, given the critical role that geography plays in defining a touring route. The aim is to illustrate a framework for business cooperation on themed touring routes that can be used as an analytical tool in assessing the progress of touring route initiatives.